In perhaps a divine act of irony, the same day that the MOOD Lounge published a statement in the Ethiopian Times stating "Despite these accusations and the relentless harassment by this group of neighbors that accompany them [empasis by editor], to date, the Mood Lounge has not been found
in violation of any noise provisions", ABRA issued a Findings of Fact Conclusions of Law Order stating that yes, in fact, MOOD Lounge was undeniably guilty of violating this term of the Voluntary Agreement. This is not in any way to be confused with MOOD Lounge not being guilty of disrupting the neighbors consistently since they opened or officials not recognizing that they were doing so or holding them accountable. This was the very first accusation against MOOD Lounge for a violation of the Noise Provision in the Voluntary Agreement, and they were found guilty on the very first accusation. The delay between the accusation and the verdict is due purely to the delay in justice in the DC ABRA system where it takes months between filing a complaint and obtaining a hearing and then up to 90 days between the hearing and the decision.
This charge is dating from all the way back to March 9 of 2011 (less than seven weeks after the "grand opening" of the MOOD Lounge on January 22nd, 2011), when on March 9th, 2011, according to the official record of the complaint against Abebye Beyene's liquor license, she had the initial documentation of potential cause for violations of her Voluntary Agreement that she assumed from the previous licensee in hand. Again, it is the completely defective condition of DC ABRA, not any potential (and now legally proven to be untimely but still legally invalid) claims of innocence by the MOOD Lounge that it has taken nearly eleven months for the neighbors to receive justice in this case.
A point-by-point factual account of the issues with the MOOD Lounge follows in response (in bold, both to factual and grammatical errors) to the text from the article in the Ethiopian Times (which featured no byline, but by the language in the article can only be attributed to a MOOD Lounge spokesperson), is here:
Mood Lounge, owned and operated by A[bey]ba Beyene (Mimi), is located in the socially rejuvenated Shaw section of Washington D.C., 2 blocks from the Convention Center, where there are dozens of restaurants, clubs and bars along the 7th and 9th Street corridors [Dozens is a stretch - MOOD, for example, is the only ABRA license of any kind on either side of the street on the block they are located on - if they include downtown and U Street, perhaps "dozens" is accurate].
We are deeply shocked and saddened by reports [of a double stabbing in front of the MOOD Lounge at 1318 9th St, NW, has been confirmed, not "reported"] surrounding a stabbing that occurred early morning on Friday, December 30, 2011. We wish a quick and healthful recovery to anyone [a promoter and a performer, according to MPD reports] who may [were] have been injured.
As for the morning of December 30th, all patrons had exited Mood Lounge, and its doors were closed and locked by 12:30 a.m. [Though nearby residents continued to complain at 1:03am about audible noise from the sound system at the MOOD Lounge in those residences]. A police officer informed Mood Lounge’s owner around 1:30 a.m. that someone had been picked up by an ambulance down the street [Testimony during this ABRA trial, which this blog will back up when transcripts are available, will clearly document that one of the stabbing victims made his way back into the MOOD Lounge to seek transport to the ER....] nearby the convention center and was transported to Howard University hospital with stab wounds. According to Police, this unfortunate incident occurred at 1:15am. We were unaware of any disturbance and/or incident that happened outside of the Mood Lounge after we closed [due to insufficient security for the event held immediately prior and a failure to follow the legally binding security plan they had in place]. Notwithstanding, the incident was connected to the Mood Lounge and the Lounge was shut down for 96 hours over this past New Years Eve weekend on the basis of safety concerns.
We are compelled to make this statement because much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and to some media outlets related to this incident, and Mood Lounge in general, is wrong.
The Mood Lounge has been under much scrutiny by the ANC and a select group [Read: the majority of immediate residential neighbors] of neighbors, some of whom have been very vocal in their mission of shutting down Mood Lounge amidst allegations of noise violations [and the risk to public safety, as evident by the recent double stabbing at the MOOD Lounge and the violent assault inside the MOOD Lounge that resulted in an arrest warrant against one of the promoters hired by the MOOD Lounge in October]. Despite these accusations and the relentless harassment by this group of neighbors that accompany them, to date, the Mood Lounge has not been found in violation of any noise provisions. [Please see the link which shows MOOD in clear violation of this provision of this clause of the Voluntary Agreement, and note for the record that it take 10-14 months to complete adjudication for issues like Noise Violations under current DC ABRA VA Statutes....]
The true issue appears to be the perception perpetuated by select neighbors [i.e., race baiting, at the complete lack of any other reasonable defense] that the Lounge’s patrons are undesirable. It is unfortunate that in 2011 and 2012 that a person’s skin color or attire can cause them to be prejudged as undesirable and somehow unsafe [unsafe, as determined by those who brought a violent brawl inside the club and a double-stabbing to our doorstep], by the MOOD Lounge. The Mood Lounge is patronized primarily by Ethiopians and African Americans over the age of 21. [Except for the allegation that one of the NYE Stabbing victims, a performer at the MOOD Lounge, was under 21 years old]. We take pride in the patrons we serve and reject any presumption that our patrons or venue itself is somehow unsafe [again, except for the 30+ police calls in the last year]. The Mood Lounge is committed to doing all that it can to ensure a safe social venue [without volunteering to pay for a supplementary police detail and instead insisting upon a taxpayer-funded police detail upon closing and for the hours prior and subsequent to closing], and we have done nothing to create a safety concern for the MPD or the community [aside from being the source of a half a dozen + violations of our Voluntary Agreement and being the documented site of a potentially lethal double stabbing and a separate inside assualt].
Mood Lounge has been targeted by so he can get the votes of the neighborhood of Mood Lounge [despite the fact that not a single owner of the MOOD Lounge actually lives in the District of Columbia, at all] He has made it his mission to have Mood Lounge closed using his influence with DC officials [due to literally hundreds of complaints by constituents]. We ask the Ethiopian community as well as the Af[r]ican community to speak out agains[t] what council member Jack Evans is doing to Abeba Beyene’s establishment [in response to hundreds of nearly resident complaints]. Its very wrong and unhumane to target someone’s livelihood just to earn votes [unless that individual is putting his or her own livelihood against the dozens of residents who pay income, property, and sales taxes to the District every day to not live in a de facto "nightclub / red light district zone"...]. Its times (sic) for us to come together and stand up to Council Member Jack Evans. Your support is appreciated!Well, take a good look at the truth about the MOOD Lounge, and ask yourself, what do we need more of in DC? More of the MOOD Lounge, or more representation of voters and their rights at the polls? And let's take a good look on this block - who's really representing the amazing nearby Ethiopian community? The wonderful owners and employees of Azi's Cafe who provide amazing service to the entire community, or Abeya Beyene of the Mood Lounge, one of the 0.05% of ABRA license holders to get a Summary Suspension last year?
I'd like to note the same neighbors who complain about MOOD Lounge spend small fortunes weekly at Azi's on the same block. These are not racists, these are not anti-Ethiopian neighbors - these are people who want peace and quiet and safe streets in this community - things the local Ethiopan community has fought for for years. MOOD Lounge does not fit that theme - it never has and it never will.
This isn't about race as MOOD would like to make everyone believe, but instead about common sense and following the rules. Last month's conviction following the double stabbing that the MOOD Lounge violated the security plan and this month's conviction that they violated the noise provision of the VA means that MOOD Lounge has had two and only two (of many pending) violations heard and decided by the ABRA Board, and they have been found guilty and have been penalized for their guilt 100% of the time that they have appeared. Those stats speak for themselves. And for the neighbors, too...
Read previous coverage of the issues with the MOOD Lounge here: